The failure of the National Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to take action against dealers in expired and unwholesome food items in markets and Supermarkets in some parts of Niger State, Minna metropolis in particular has become a source of worry to consumers.
A story was recently published about the circulation of contaminated Indomie and how a customer, Mrs. Cecilia Momoh had advised NAFDAC to beam its searchlight across major markets and supermarkets where some more harmful or unwholesome food items are well on display instead of concentrating on the killer Indomie alone, reports Sunday Independent.
Moving forward to check the activities of dealers in expired/fake/harmful food items, including food condiments/spices, patent medicine dealers and supermarket operators, this paper visited the state NAFDAC office at the Minna federal secretariat for an update on the number of defaulters arrested or persecuted within the first quarter of the year, 2023.
One of the staff on duty who said she is in-charge of drugs aspect hence cannot comment on anything food or other areas of their operations in expression of the challenges facing the agency in the state told our correspondent that they have only one operational vehicle and that the person in charge of foods had travelled to Bida with it.
The state coordinator, Mr. James Kigbu on the grounds that he wasn’t authorised to officially speak on the matter referred us to one, Mr. Abu Jimoh at the headquarters, Abuja who in turn requested that such inquiries should be sent through his wassap, a request that was obliged.
Unfortunately, for close to two weeks now NAFDAC has kept silence over the matter thereby fuelling insinuations that the agency is not doing enough to check the flooding of the markets and supermarkets in some states, including Niger with unwholesome food items.
Findings by our correspondent also indicated that there are elements of truth in fears as being expressed by Mrs. Cecilia Momoh about more harmful food items either due to expiry or dangerous chemical compositions in circulation being sold to unsuspecting Nigerians on a daily basis than the killer indomie.
Cecilia had argued that, there are many other more dangerous or harmful food items to health than the suspected cancerous Indomie in circulation and that is why she is strongly suggesting that NAFDAC should be more up and doing in beaming its searchlight on other food items stocked in stalls/warehouses where expired canned and sachet foods and frozen fish or ice fish are stored.
“Many of these dealers are also smart enough to erase the expiry dates for some of the tinned and sachet foods, while others simply try to alter or change the expiry dates with new dates and all these we all know bounce back to have negative consequences on unsuspecting end users or consumers like me and you. The worst is that even some of the sachet water we drinking every day smells”, she had posited.
Apart from food spices (local and imported) some customers react to after its consumption, this paper discovered other expired, mostly imported food items of variant sizes and shapes on display/sold at major markets and supermarkets within Minna the state capital and other commercial suburbs.
On display in most of the major markets/Supermarkets/patent medicine shops visited are several sachets of variant sizes and shapes of expired and harmful food spices commonly referred to as, ‘mixes’ suspected of containing cancer causing chemicals.
Meanwhile, one of the victims who unsuspectingly bought one of the expired food item, a journalist, Mr. Isah Alfa of Aljazeera newspapers told our correspondent how his health started failing him after consuming the Quaker Oats he bought from one of the popular supermarkets in Minna.
Alfa who gave a vivid description of where he bought the Quaker Oats said, “I was never for any reason in doubts or suspected any of their products. I never suspected that a big supermarket like this can be selling anything expired”.
While calling on NAFDAC in Niger State to rise up to their responsibilities of routinely checking Supermarkets, major markets and some big warehouses where some of these harmful and expired foods are stored, the journalist said acting fast could save citizens from food poisoning or chemically induced sicknesses.
He further lamented that, “It is unfortunate that NAFDAC is saying nothing about inquiries on their activities as it relates to checking how often they carryout surveillance to make sure that Nigerlites are safe from consuming contaminated and expired foods or drugs being circulated and sold to unsuspecting general public”.